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A Thousand Faces Chapter 17

Updated: Jan 12

"So, what do I need to do?" 


An urging tone, suggesting to cut to the chase and speak directly. 


His tone was not one of helpfulness, like "What can I do to help?" or "How can I get started?" Instead, the boy leaned back in his chair and nonchalantly blurted out his question, his face filled with boredom and frustration. 


The team members in the meeting room suddenly straightened up, their bodies tense with surprise and nervousness. What was this? The participant was the boy, but they all felt like they were being interviewed by him. It was a strange feeling. 


Park Jun-gil was perplexed. 


Things were constantly deviating from the picture he had been anticipating. 


He thought that if things continued this way, he might end up completely blocked by this person. 


'I should have set the mood and broken his spirit right away if I had known he was like this.' 


But he was just a kid. No experience or skill. For many years, he had dealt with many people who had come into this business with a lot of bravado, not knowing what they were doing. It was time to stop playing with him and get down to business. 


'Breaking a kid like him is nothing. I can just put him in his place without making him too discouraged.' 




Park Joon-gil straightened up. 


The boy in front of him was staring at his face, waiting for an answer. 


"Usually, the less experience you have, the easier it is to approach anything. Well, that's how it goes. I actually like that Junwoo doesn't seem nervous." 


He said it with a deliberately twisted smirk, implying, "How dare someone like you, who's nothing special, stand before us?" 


"Lucky for us." 


An expressionless face, with no noticeable change in reaction. Park Jun-gil was taken aback. So, when is he going to get to the point? He wondered if he had been too circumspect and the other person failed to catch on. 


"By the way, Junwoo, you probably don't know this, but do you know how much this program costs to produce? It's an unprecedented scale, but it's over 200 billion won. There's no shortage of people who want to make a name for themselves by participating in this program. You know the idol group UNIQ, right? And then there are the investors. We were actually quite worried about whether you could do it well." 




Yes? Is that it? At this point, there could be various questions to ask. Or perhaps, overwhelmed by the sudden influx of enormous scales, he might be left speechless. However, 


"...? Junwoo?" 


A face trying to stifle a yawn. No, at this point, it wasn't just an intentional effort to hold it in. Junwoo, after wiping his nose with a sniff, tilted his body slightly and blinked a couple of times. Could it be that he finds this conversation boring? 


"...Junwoo. Are you listening to me?" 


"Yes, I am." 


It feels like talking to a wall. That face isn't exactly crestfallen or confused. It's more of a bored expression as if asking, "Is that really important?" 


It was a tedious boredom, as if questioning why bother dressing up the already read situation so elaborately and urging to get to the point. Unfortunately, despite Park Jun-gil's awareness of this, he didn't give up and continued speaking. 


"Still, as long as you follow our lead, there shouldn't be any issues. It's good to have a sense of responsibility, but don't worry too much." 




"Well, if you don't fit in well, it might make the broadcast less entertaining. You could even become the target of manipulative editing. In that case, Junwoo would be the one to suffer the most." 


"I don't care." 


What? Park Jun-gil couldn't believe his ears. Junwoo's face showed that he really didn't care whether he appeared on the show or not. Was it an act? Surely, he wouldn't have decided to appear on such a show if he was just there to clown around. 


"Haha. So many participants are going crazy just to get their faces on screen. This is a truly rare opportunity. If you receive something, there should naturally be corresponding reciprocity. I believe Junwoo, at his age, understands that much." 




Junwoo nodded quietly, his gaze indicating that he had decided to detach his interest from this direction and was now completely focused elsewhere. 




From the studio next door, the spirited voices of participants faintly drifted in. 


"Can I take a look at that?" 


Junwoo pointed to the next room with his finger. He looked genuinely curious. Park Jun-gil's face turned redder and redder. What had he just heard? This was the first time he had ever been disrespected like this. He felt a little embarrassed as his team members were watching. He tried to suppress his anger as he spoke. 


"Junwoo. We're discussing something important right now." 


"Oh, really?" 


"What about it?" 


"Well, you know, you had us sit down, and then you started talking about something completely unrelated." 




Talking about something unrelated? Park Jun-gil wondered what he had been doing all this time. 


Oh well. Since it seems like he was not getting through, he decided to cut the unnecessary talk and get straight to the point.  




With a forced cough, he straightened his posture and crossed his legs. 


He began to explain the contents of the pre-interview that would take place before the official evaluation. 


"We've roughly summarized the contents so that Junwoo doesn't get lost. He visited the Joo Theater daily with his passion for acting, but the director always chased him away because he had nothing. However, he persevered and finally entered the theater after long and hard work. The director used Junwoo's young and handsome looks and unexpected skills to save the theater that was on the verge of bankruptcy..." 


Hearing that, Junwoo furrowed his brow. 


"Why do I have to do that?" 


"Well, I understand your understanding of the program is still lacking. However, just briefly sharing those real experiences will let people recognize how much effort Junwoo has put into it." 


"I've never been chased out." 


"Well, you see... It doesn't necessarily have to be a hundred percent true, but, haha, this is quite tricky, a very important point." 


"Why is it important? Wasn't it an acting audition program?" 


"Of course. That's right. But, Junwoo, people don't just want to see acting." 


"I came out here because I just want to act." 


Junwoo had just confirmed the earnest desire on set to showcase even a bit more of his acting. 


Junwoo glanced at each person in the meeting room with a disdainful look. 


"So, you're telling me to deceive instead of act," 

Junwoo said sarcastically. 


Park Jun-gil was suddenly thrown off by Junwoo's unexpectedly sunny attitude, making it difficult for him to continue explaining. 


The officials in the meeting room were in a quandary because they had expected Junwoo to appreciate a story that would immediately catch the eye. Even the loquacious Yoo Sang-jun was momentarily silent, giving Park Jun-gil a fleeting glance as if urging him to say something. 


"This guy is not easy to deal with. Can't just overturn everything at this point. This is what he wants." 


However, Park Jun-gil didn't back down. He didn't expect to be blocked like this. The more he saw, the more he liked it. It was a type he hadn't encountered before. The natural composure in both face and voice, coupled with an attitude that didn't yield a single word to the adults in this situation. 


Anyway, this wasn't the problem to solve here. Park Jun-gil decided to leave it to the editing team. Originally, he had intended to squeeze out even tears, but it seemed unlikely to go that far. There shouldn't be a significant issue if handled with appropriate direction and subtitles. 


For now, it was time to move on to the next matter before things escalated further. 


"Okay. I understand. It's only natural that you might not understand everything at first, but I'm sorry if you took it as coercion. So, you said you just wanted to act? Well, today is the pre-screening." 




"Anyway, Junwoo, you're not going to fail the pre-screening, so just do whatever you want to act. Is that okay? What's your most confident performance?" 


Junwoo blinked. The role he's most confident in? Is there even something like that? 


Park Jun-gil finally grasped something as he observed the child, who was looking at him with wide-eyed innocence. 




The child's hands were empty. In fact, they had not realized until now because they had no interest in the child's performance. 


"Indeed. It's no wonder he shared the stage with actor Gil Jun-ho. He must have already memorized everything, so he doesn't need to look at it anymore, right?" 


"He memorized them?" 


"Yes, the performances that Junwoo prepared. Usually, people who come to this kind of event bring a few scripts with them, but those who are serious about it memorize them in their heads." 


"They said it was an impromptu audition, so I just came." 


"Just came, huh?" 




It was perplexing. If it was an impromptu random acting audition, it would have been more normal to come prepared with a variety of scenarios. Perhaps the reason for this attitude was the lack of desperation. He furrowed his brow with a slightly disappointed expression. 


"So, are you saying you didn't prepare anything because you didn't know what would come up?" 




"Oh. I wonder if it's because you are not mentally prepared or if you just don't know what you're doing because you've never been taught." 


Park Jun-gil, deliberately muttering audibly, continued with his words. 


"Well, you see. Let me tell you something as someone who has been in many acting programs. Human emotions are inherently limited, just like roles are. Usually, when you're given a similar situation, the appropriate lines that fit right in should come to you with preparation." 


Junwoo nodded with a slight smile. 


"That reflexive ability is what we call skill. In impromptu acting, proficiency is almost divided in that way." 


Park Jun-gil had a confident look, as if to say, "Do you understand now?" 


"Is it a bit challenging?" 


Hm. Junwoo had a face of not quite comprehending. No, he was in the process of gauging whether it was something he needed to understand. 


Is it about fitting in pre-memorized things like a formula? But if that's the case, why act at all? 


"Anything else?" 




"Emotions, roles, and situations aside. I was wondering if there's a separate range set in the program." 


"A range?" 


"Yes. It would be convenient for me to know if there's something like that." 


What does that mean? Park Jun-gil blinked. Then, as if he had realized something, 


"Oh, haha, I'm sorry. That was my mistake. It seems like Junwoo is inexperienced and doesn't understand well. Well, such things… he'll eventually learn them. For now, just do your best." 


It was a completely dismissive tone. Junwoo opened his mouth to say something, but… 




He just stayed silent, looking resigned as if saying he was too tired to hear more. It was a face that suggested speaking would only result in a sore mouth. However, Park Jun-gil was mistakenly interpreting that resignation in a different way. 


"Is his skill really that bad?" 


'He thought it was lucky that Gil Junho had caught the attention of a reporter. What did Gil Junho see to stand on stage with him? Well, he didn't look like an ordinary person, so maybe he fell for his face and vibe.'  


"Anyway, it doesn't really matter if he's good. He just needs to be good enough." 


Park Jun-gil began to think. If this kid's acting was so bad that it couldn't even draw a reaction from viewers, he would have to change the concept to emotional manipulation. 


'He's full of passion, but he doesn't have any formal training, so his acting is lacking. Hmm. If I play my cards right, I might be able to make a deal with NK by highlighting the heartwarming story of Gil Junho taking responsibility for such a child.' 




Only two people remained in the meeting room after Junwoo left. 

Park Jun-gil, feeling uncomfortable with the picture not unfolding as he envisioned, clenched his fist and tightly pressed his lips together. 


On the opposite side, there was someone who had been watching this entire scene with interest from the beginning. 


The first words he uttered after remaining silent throughout. 


"He's an interesting kid. They say he's from the countryside." 


He lifted the middle of his glasses with a swift motion. 


Lee Jaewon. He was the CEO of 'KOS,' one of the top idol management agencies in South Korea, responsible for sponsoring this Actor Kingdom. 


His sponsorship held significance beyond financial support. It was a matter of quality. 


In fact, without him, it would have been difficult to gather art directors, producers, and other top-notch experts. As a result, Park Jun-gil and the other team members had to be careful not to cross him. 


Lee Jaewon's goal was to find talented trainees from this place, where people with all kinds of ambitions for broadcasting gathered.  


It was time to start forming a debut team. 


He didn't know what to expect, so he sat there with no expectations, just to see how the introduction would go. He felt like he had made an unexpected harvest. 


The boy caught his interest from the moment he appeared, and it only got better as time went on. Lee Jae-won kept licking his lips. 


"What should we do? He's just my type." 


"You mean that kid?" 


"To be honest, even Director Park was tempted, right? It feels a bit wasteful to use him like this. Both his face and his spirit." 


"They certainly don't seem like the kids these days." 


"There's a certain charm in taming those kinds of kids. Hmm. I like the narrative too. Despite being portrayed unfavorably, please handle it in a way that doesn't overly deplete the image." 


Lee Jaewon said with a lowered voice, seemingly for no reason. 


"Haha. Mr. CEO. What's up with that? You act like you've already put your stamp of approval on it. The show hasn't even started yet, and if you keep that up, I'm going to feel the pressure." 


Park Jun-gil deliberately chuckled and lightly nudged him with his elbow. Lee Jaewon was smiling, but he spoke firmly. 


"I'm not joking. You know I don't talk nonsense, right?" 


Is it really necessary to be that serious? Park Jun-gil's pupils widened at the sudden change in tone. 


'He's not the type to do this normally.' 


To be so greedy. Park Jun-gil curled his lips. He felt like he was holding the key that Lee Jaewon was coveting. 


"Whether he's interested or not, who knows. But do you think that kid has any interest in becoming an idol?" 


Lee Jaewon chuckled as if to say whether that matters or not. 


"I don't know. Among our kids, there aren't many who originally dreamed of becoming singers. Whether they're models, unknown actors, or regular people, if they catch my eye, there are ways." 


"Oh, if it's KOS, the signing bonus must be at a high level..." 


"Well, I'm not so sure about that." 




"Hmm, it's clear what he wants. Kids like that are easier. Rather than talented unknowns, the projects tend to stand out with those who are in demand by the public, no matter what they do." 


Lee Jaewon was already calculating Junwoo's position in the debut team in his head. His eyes were full of confidence. He knew there was no reason for Junwoo to refuse his offer. 


Park Jun-gil caught onto his intention. It wasn't an ordinary bet, after all. In that case, at this point, 


"Don't worry too much. I'll give it to you when the time is right. But instead, about what you said last time..." 


"Oh, that thing." 


Lee Jae-won knew what he had to do. He had to help that kid, even if it meant putting his own goals on hold. 


"Yeah, well. Let's do it that way." 


Both of them shared a satisfied smile. 


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